Many kids and adults are pushed into attending college in hopes of achieving a better future, and end up developing severe forms of depression and/or anxiety when they don’t succeed. It’s easy to see yourself as a failure when you’re only given one option that simply doesn’t work for you.
Instead of pursuing something that doesn’t work for you, why not look at some of the alternatives?
I must admit, I have a certain fascination with the apprenticeship model. This one has been around for centuries, but lost popularity in favor of the mainstream institutional education that’s the norm today.
In this model, a professional takes a younger or more inexperienced person under their wing and teaches them the ropes, sometimes literally depending on the job. I believe this method probably works best for tactile learners, and those who absorb information more easily through auditory means, rather than reading it out of a book.
This method has been extremely successful for countless people throughout the world.
When I had first met my husband, he was involved in a sort of apprenticeship for iron working, since that’s what his father had worked in for over 20 years. My husband didn’t stick with it, since iron working is insanely hard on the body, but he did pick up valuable skills that he still uses today.
Although my hubby is not LD, and he can learn from books as well as lectures, he still had no luck with finding work after college. However, since he excels whenever he can try something with his hands, he fell into the world of landscaping several years ago. Now, he’s a foreman with a local landscaping company.
Despite what mainstream society may think, landscaping can be a very complicated job, and he went into it with minimal knowledge. Through his on the job training, which I suppose can be similar to an apprenticeship, he was able to further hone his math and spacial skills.
We’re not the only ones who benefit from apprenticeship style education, either. The US Department of Labor has a Registered Apprenticeship program, which seems to be helping a lot of people. The programs go beyond the more physical trades like carpentry and construction, too. Some of these categories include acting, animal training, EMT, arson/bomb detectors, and beekeepers. The list goes on and on.
If you’re a tactile learner, you should check out apprenticeship programs available in your area.
With the continuous development of the internet and computers, online education is gathering more and more popularity. There are online elementary, middle and high schools in addition to online colleges.
In fact, upscale colleges like Yale offer free online courses. One of these days, I’ll sign up for one or two, since I love learning, but I’m not up for going into debt for a degree I may not end up using.
In any case, the results seem to be very mixed when it comes to online classes. Some people I’ve met who have taken them excelled in them, while others struggled. A big part of that also stems from the quality of teaching and materials rather than the student’s learning style.
I’ve helped a few people with their online coursework in the past, through either homework, paper editing or tutoring. Quite a bit of the material the students were given was full of spelling and/or grammatical errors, unclear wording, and in a few cases, questions cut off in the middle.
However, assuming the materials and teaching are high quality, online classes can be extremely useful, especially if the student has mobility issues or other life obligations. I can also see it as very handy when it comes to folks with dyslexia and other learning disabilities.
The beauty of online education is that you can take part in it from anywhere, be it your own home, a library or a cafe. You are in charge of your surroundings, so you can control noise and light levels, plus minimize distractions.
As far as learning styles go, you may be able to customize your choice of courses to how you learn. However, I’ve seen primarily text based teaching methods employed, though I know there are videos and chats available for some classes.
That said, visual and auditory learners may benefit from online courses. Those with various forms of SPD may also benefit, since they or their care takers will be in charge of trigger management.
Bear in mind, there are also countless free tutorials out there, as well. That means learning styles can be extended into the tactile realm as well. I’ve learned quite a few craft techniques, mending methods and home maintenance ideas from video and written tutorials.
This is another older form of education that may be gathering steam again. According to Wikipedia, this method has been around since the 1600s.
This form of education decentralizes power within the school, and allows students to have greater input into their courses and what they learn. It fosters greater interpersonal skills and works on the theory that the more interest a student has in a subject, the better they’ll be able to learn required skills.
There are a number of small private schools that use this method, and there are organizations, like AERO, which work towards this ideal.
Although this method may not be best for all areas, it has proven successful for a number of students.
There’s one young man who used to live in my neighborhood who also has dyslexia and was failing miserably in public school. Because of the combination of his lagging grades and some of the other students in his class, he was beginning to get into legal troubles as well as academic.
His grandmother had gotten wind of a local school that employs this type of teaching model, and was able to get him into it. He’s done extremely well ever since.
If this was an isolated case, I highly doubt this method would still be around.
This model is great because students get to choose how and what they learn. The fact that they have more control, it’s probably much easier for many of them to pick up the skills they need for later on in life.
Depending on courses available, I imagine this type of educational setting could cater to the vast majority of learning styles. However, I can see how some personality types might not prosper in this type of environment. It’s also more feasible for smaller populations rather than larger ones.
There are quite a few other educational methods out there that I haven’t covered here, too.
I think a huge part of the problem with the current mainstream educational situation is that students are expected to go in one particular direction, learn in one particular way and succeed within a limited range of opportunities. Another part of the problem is the lack of awareness of various educational opportunities outside of college.
If mainstream education is failing you or your child, I’d strongly suggest looking for alternatives.
I figure I’ll close this entry out with one of my all time favorite quotes from Albert Einstein, “Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life thinking that it is stupid.”
Those of us who are fish in an the forest of mainstream education need to find some more aquatic alternatives in order to flourish.